2021 Chevy Colorado Mobile Radios/Installation

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio' started by AA4BA, May 9, 2021.

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  1. AA4BA

    AA4BA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Have had mobile radios HF/VHF/UHF plus business radios & custom stereo equipment in past four trucks but none have any touch screens, electronic everything plus pile of onboard computers/ECMs like this new Colorado. Last seven trucks were all Mopars but Fiat is fast ruining the Dodge/Chrysler lines. Were supposed to re-release the Dakota's in 2019/2020/2021 and now say will be a re-badged Fiat in 2024 with 480 pound cargo capacity but only in South America & Europe. So after a lifetime of only buying Mopar trucks ordered a GM for first time since my 1972 Chevelle in high school.

    Have a few options for this truck and for HF radios have a Kenwood TS-480 sitting unused and now two Icom 7100s new in box one has sat almost two years with no home as work and home shack have more radios than I can use. Have a Yaesu FT 8900R 70cm/2/6/10 meter quad band mobile sitting in box unused but have my eyes on an Icom 5100 dual band D-Star. Trying to consider best configuration, the 7100 "shack in a box" which would cover my HF needs as well as VHF/UHF D-Star then use the Yaesu 8900 quad band to have ability to monitor enough bands and talk about anywhere want. Will also be installing a 150 watt business band radio (Land Mobile)

    What has me waffling is had the Kenwood TS-480 installed in a 1500 Ram 4WD for a couple years and worked South America, Europe, Asia and Australia along with New Zealand and chatted almost weekly with a station in Tasmania on a 20 meter hamstick. Like my Kenwood boat anchors to modern solid state shack radios the 480 mobile talks and always got great signal reports. If use the Kenwood HF then will for sure install an Icom 5100 to handle my VHF/UHF/D-Star needs. My biggest concern is RFI issues with the radios and boatload of electronics in the new Chevy Colorado Long Box 4WD WT.

    It has power everything, WiFi hotspot, dash/cab/backup cameras, "parking assist", towing package added a feature that almost takes over the truck and centers ball on hitch under tongue of trailer, Bluetooth, USB ports, two touch screens and more. First truck I purchased with OBD and an ECM smoked the ECM three times in under a year before figured out had HF antenna too close to ECM and if turned amplifier on to make contact then ragchewed anymore than a couple minutes truck died in the road and had to go back to the dealer.

    With all the onboard electronics such as computer controlled 8 speed automatic transmission, traction control computer turning locking rear differential, 4WD on/off plus applying brakes and power to each wheel as it feels necessary to keep truck planted I am sensing I could burn this truck down if installation is not spot on. For now have decided to not install my 500 watt solid state amplifier as worried key down when truck is trying to shift gears in combination with engaging traction control and 500 watts may cause some confusion for truck, especially if just pressed a button to send three PSK 31 macros on 30 meters while talking on my 150 watt VHF business radio. Newest truck I own is a 2007 with no touch screens or even 1/4 of the electronic systems the new Colorado forces the buyer into.

    Plan is to install a quality 70cm/2 meter dual band antenna, Comet/Diamond 70cm/2/6/10 meter Quad Band and a screwdriver. Due to tight spaces drive regularly (basically live in my truck three or four days per week working) looking at either the Baby Tarhill or Little Tarhill II for my HF stick as reason removed my Icom 706 from current work truck was got sick of stopping the truck and swapping hamsticks if wanted to change bands. Put a Texas Bug Catcher with Icom external tuner on truck but with 12.5' height from rear bumper was breaking the mast or upper fiberglass section monthly and replacing the metal shop on top almost weekly. Cannot have anything resembling a big antenna survive the way I work my trucks.

    Deposit and order for build was accepted by GM from my local Chevy dealer officially nine days ago with estimated build time of eight to twelve weeks. All the dash cams and even ballistic door liners, ballistic window tint, bed liner, rail caps, toolbox, skid plates, every WeatherTech accessory installed by dealer along with cold air box, cat back exhaust upgrade and RackBack headache rack with three antenna mounts installed by dealer just leaving me radios to install.

    It's an extended cab with back seats nobody over the age of eight could ride in so removing the rear seats, cup holders, etc and building a box to house ham radios, stereo amplifiers, subwoofers plus a hidden compartment with police style auto lock/unlock rifle rack for my truck rifle. My bigger trucks get similar box under rear seat and smaller trucks rear of cab get a custom box that makes installation of electronics much more elegant and attractive covered to match vehicle trim, hide all equipment and wiring. Also having to figure out how to get subwoofer preamp outputs from a truck that has no traditional stereo, just links to a Bluetooth device to input audio which sure I will have. Truck will also have a Wilson Cell Phone Booster which locates cell antenna outside and boosts power from 1/3 watt allowed in handheld phone to full five watts. When working in fringe/no coverage areas being able to call clients on phone is a huge benefit.

    Have installed multiple towers (American Tower Dealer), do subcontract cell tower maintenance and upgrades for Ma Bell as well as emergency power systems. Repair radar, hack marine radars into ground or air systems, can work on a myriad of electronics but this new truck has me concerned will burn up some expensive factory system. Ordered the biggest alternator and dual batteries from factory to not starve anything for power but just have a nagging feeling something is going to go awry. Plan to bond cab and bed to frame along with hood and front fenders getting ground straps to frame. Who has loaded a late model vehicle with lots of radio equipment and what tips do you have for someone leaping 15 years forward in truck technology and mixing in multiple radios?
  2. AA5LS

    AA5LS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Welcome to the new world of operating with a computer controlled vehicle. I worked in GM dealerships for 40 years and watched and learned as the vehicles went computer controlled on almost everything in them. I also have operated hf mobile for 45 years. Love retirement.

    I first suggest to down load the GM bodybuilders electrical manual on your vehicle and give it a study. Also K0BG webb site is required reading.

    I own a 2017 GMC 2500HD that is totally controlled by the body control module computer. When I first installed hf rig it would set off a code for the antilock brakes and disable the cruise control on 40 meters. After extensive bonding/grounding of the body and antenna, eliminating the rf ground loop on the coax to the antenna and properly matching the feed line to the hf antenna at the antenna, cured my problems.

    I run a FT450 Yeasu for hf and it does well on receive, I do not experience computer noises in the receiver.

    Some suggestions on installation:
    New vehicles measure the current used from the battery and the body control module tells the alternator how much to charge to replace the current used. Make sure you wire your equipment so this is measured by the module. This is explained by K0BG.

    Do not install antennas near headlights or taillights. The lights are turned on and off by a computer signal sent to a module at the light that controls them. RF will ingress into the computer buss(land) and affect the body control module or other modules on the buss. I mounted my hf antenna on the bed rail about on third back from the cab, bonded it to the bed.

    I am concerned about rf ingress to the new vehicles with electric power assist steering. I have not been able to visit with any one that has installed hf on a gm vehicle with electric power assist steering, I had a 2014 1500 with it, but I only had vhf/uhf in it. My 2500HD stills has hydraulic power assist.

    If I can be of help feel free to contact me,

    Les Stewart AA5LS
    PS get too much junk mail, drop a dime and call my cell 405 567 7011
    N2AMM, US7IGN, K0ACS and 1 other person like this.
  3. AA4BA

    AA4BA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    New truck ordered has "parking assist", "electronic power assist steering", "Lane & Vehicle Proximity Alerts" plus a "Trailering" feature that works in combination with the parking assist and backup camera to almost automate centering ball on trailer hitch under the tongue of trailer. I tried to order it without all of this but when i added the bigger engine and 4WD Chevrolet added three "packages" with a half dozen features per package of which most I would rather not have as know how to back up and use mirrors.

    I am waiting for truck to ship before buy some of my mounts as do not want to mount my Little Tarhill II a few inches from a major computer. Plan to bond bed, cab, fenders and hood to frame with braided/tinned ground straps. Will also be adding a pair of 10" subwoofers in custom box (removing rear seats) and box will also "hide radio bodies, amplifiers for stereo, and will have a hidden compartment to carry my truck rifle. This is always an extra layer as my trucks get all speakers replaced, minimum of two top quality stereo amplifiers, Wilson Cell Phone booster with external antenna to give me a full five watt cell phone and more. Will not have to add some systems have done in past as has GPS built into the touch screen.

    Truck has traction control with electronic locking rear differential plus all wheel drive and will apply power to wheels it thinks needs power, brakes to others then try to drive truck where it thinks I am trying to go. I have been to racing school and avoided many accidents purposely sliding my vehicle or even spinning it so impact happens to rear instead of front. Its full of airbags and wondering if may set one of those bombs off? My 2007 Ram, 2001 Cummins diesel and 2007 Hemi removed the air bags and have in box at work because I only wear seat belts at highway speeds. Bet I have to wear the belts in this new GM and it will shut down if try removing the air bags. Had Fiat not purchased Chrysler would have re-released the Dakota by now and be dealing with Mopars newest crap. My 91 or 93 Dakota (93 is still my daily driver) only have a basic ECM but had to build a type of Faraday Cage to keep RF out of them.

    Already have a 390 amp aftermarket alternator (painted to match the truck, not my idea but manufacturer assumes its going in show vehicles so request vehicle color on order) that have read a lot about and have been put in many of the Colorado VVT V6 engine equipped trucks with no issues. Considering adding the Kenwood 480 (have a 100 watt and the 2000 watt model available to use), Icom 5100, either a PLMR or 6 through 12 meter radio with 11 meters unlocked plus minimum of two stereo amplifiers and may put my 5000 watt solid state mobile HF amplifier going to need some watts. Will download manual you suggested and already have the real deal service manual on order.

    Want to try and locate every computer i can, assume the 8 speed automatic will have its own computer, the traction control some form of ECM/computer, then engine, brakes and more. Friend has a new Corvette and it has supposedly twenty different computer control modules including one for each wheel. As I run ground straps, power wires, coax, etc plan is to look for all these modules (since ordered the full skid plate package sure will be hard to see without a map) and do my best to shield each one as best I can and tie the shielding into common ground on the frame. have a complete steel, sheet metal, aluminum fabrication shop with CNC and manual machine equipment. Have stick/MIG/TIG/spool gun welders set up for a myriad of metals and if take my time believe I can build attractive cages to at least keep HF and VHF frequencies out of as many "modules" as possible. Would hate to key down the HF rig and truck think I have left my lane, about to rear end someone or worse yet try to parallel park itself at 70 mph.

    I am assuming the worst going into this. I came close to buying a 2011 Dodge Dakota and having it gone through but figure to chase all gremlins in even a clean ten year old truck would cost what will pay for a new truck. Soon as the Colorado arrives my favorite 1993 Dakota goes into the suspension shop as has original tie rods and ball joints. Plan to have front end totally rebuilt plus all new frame and body bushings installed along with even new spindles for front end and rear brakes converted to disk, rebuilt front and rear axles/differentials last winter. Then will have a Mopar V6 crate motor with small super charger installed,, interior redone, redo my radios in it then when happy it will go to paint shop, when done the new Colorado goes in the garage and will be back driving my 93 Dakota. Then the 97 Ram 4WD gets the same treatment as it has over 450,000 miles and the 93 Dakota has almost 400,000. Do like I have been and split my work based on what doing between those two another decade or so years and when pull the Colorado out of storage it will be old technology but I always need spare trucks and trucks set up for specific jobs. Have put off a new truck way too long waiting on re-release of the Dakota and not going to happen with Fiat. Just did the 50,000 mile service on the Hemi truck and spark plugs were $485, trying not to put miles on it.
  4. WS9K

    WS9K Ham Member QRZ Page

    did you ever receive your colorado and how does she work with the TS-480 ?

    I love my TS-480HX and have run it in my last 4 vehicles

    pics on my QRZ page

    the colorado looks like a nice truck
  5. AA4BA

    AA4BA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    First went to local dealership fleet sales manager who knew our last nine vehicles were Dodge except for our 28,500 pound GVRW GMC Top Kick with Caterpillar diesel, Allison automatic transmission, 6 and 55 foot High Ranger bucket and wanted our business badly but honestly told me to get a Colorado equipped as I wanted would take six months or more. As an FYI owning a 55 foot bucket truck that with our custom basket and masts to hold antennas give us a portable 65 foot tower which can launch a triband yagi on rotator, three dipoles (generally a name brand G5RV, 75/80 meter NVIS and 30 meter dipole) two big verticals for VHF/UHF/1.2 GHz, plus a myriad of mobile antennas so is using for a disaster response have all band/all mode capability in the cab. Have other masts that mount on truck with most popular bad ham sticks and one field day had four portable emcomm trailers using antennas on truck along with all the trucks radios. Pick up lots of Chevrolet trucks for clients and prep them for going on the road so the Chevy fleet guy wanted my business but was honest and suggested I call fleet managers at a dealership in Chattanoga and another city who both said could not get truck I wanted for three to six months.

    Spent two months trying to buy truck with features I wanted using the Chevrolet website for two months and four times found trucks in dealer inventories that met my needs close enough of which two when called was told were already sold. Other two dealers I talked to salesperson (nobody's from out of state can have issues getting to fleet managers) but both trucks after initial salesperson deal moved to sales manager, contracts were emailed (one truck was six hour trip one way from me, other was eight hours one way from me) and signed, I made down payment with my credit card and arranged to have dealer options added and would be there next day to pick up trucks and made the mistake of asking exact total so could bring a cashiers check. Dealers hate selling nice vehicles and not getting their financing bonus. Truck one had left home at 05:30 third day after it popped up in their inventory, day after I had added more than $1,000 in dealer options and as person driving me and I were almost to Spartanburg South Carolina and five minutes after they officially opened for day my original phone salesperson, not the fleet manager called me to say didn't know how it happened but my truck was sold the night before.

    My driver wanted to go on up as were just past half way mark where we found truck I had made down-payment on sitting in front of dealership. Asked for fleet manager, presented my papers, cashiers check from bank and wanted my truck sitting right at front doors of dealership. Because of truck shortage now on well set up fleet trucks you pay full sticker price and be happy your getting it. he told me night before another client came in and saw the truck finished by dealer prep crew and offered them $1,000 over full sticker price plus 100% financing. That's a trick people like me can use, ask for financing, get the discount for financing and when payment book comes you call and pay off truck only paying one months interest but its underhanded so I don't do it.

    Found a second truck in Virginia (this dealer had three arrive same day which any would have fit my needs with a few add-ons) Made the call, worked out deal on phone, contracts were emailed and signed by fleet manager, paid down payment with credit card and next morning left at 04:30 knowing my bank had a branch just a mile from dealership so didn't discuss if paying cash or financing but gave them all information to know I could do either. Driver had me on the outskirts of Charlotte North Carolina and about 09:10 my cell phone rang to say my truck was accidentally sold just before closing the night before so I mentioned the other two that were similar and said they were gone as well. We drove on up, all three trucks were there, confronted Fleet Manager with my contract signed by him and $5,000 deposit made via credit card. he said the money had already been refunded to my card and all three trucks were going to local buyer who was paying over sticker and doing 100% financing on all.

    Finally back to my local dealer, ordered truck I wanted with every heavy duty feature, engine upgrades, heaviest GVWR available in truck, 4WD, limited slip and on and on. Took two pages like they put in window to list all the options. Placed that order on April 1st and six weeks ago they called to say there was an issue. Truck was ordered in a 2021 custom configuration and factory was making 2022s now. Chevrolet said to get truck I wanted had to change to 2022 and upgrade series truck as the options I wanted were not available on 2022s that I ordered on the 2021. Dealer stood proud and told me how much it cost to move from 2021, move up full series truck which added a lot of features which are really cool but not 100% necessary. New factory sticker price was $2,800 more for the 2022 but they said they would split cost and suck up $1,400 of that on their end.

    All that said and just this past Thursday truck arrived. Took them all of Thursday and till just after lunch Friday to get my dealer options added and took possession of the truck about 14:000 hours but will be end of next week before toolbox arrives and till it arrives unsure how I will be mounting antennas. Have been talking with a lot of people, leaning on my own knowledge and currently stuck. If put the Kenwood 480 in then have to add a D-Star radio and 11 meter rig with a mix of configurations in a small cab truck with limited room.

    Right now while I know the Icom 7100 will not work HF like the Kenwood 480 it does all band/all mode HF/VHF/UHF/D-Star in a single radio. The 7100 also does 11 meters easily so don't have to worry about a citizens band radio. Truck this is replacing has a paid for Yaesu 8900 Quad Band UHF/VHF/6 meters/10 meter FM dual watch rig. I can put the 8900, Kenwood 480 but then have to add a D-Star radio and 11 meter rig. With the 7100 all band/all mode analog/digital radio and the Yaesu Quad Band FM dual watch rig get all I really need with half the radios and one less antenna. Have a few days to kick around what I am going to do but this truck has so many electronics am thinking keeping it simple with just two radios will be better in the long run and if miss a mobile HF contact can just drive to house or work where have shacks at both, fire up big radios with amplifiers tied to towers and be done with it.

    I know the Icom 7100 (I am a big time Icom guy and one of my favorite brands) will suffer on HF compared to the 480 pushing 200 watts but then have to find room for four radios instead of two then probably have to add a bigger custom alternator To power them all if working PSK 31 on the HF rig while talking to distant repeater on the FM rig or possibly be pushing digital information through multiple radios do not want all the electronics in this truck to not get the voltage they need. A "shack in a box" Icom 7100 with Yeasu 8900 quad band or Kenwood 480, 11 meter rig then have to buy a 5100 on top of the screwdriver antenna and controller for the HF rig? Truck with other factory and aftermarket accessorizes is now $4,000 more than intended to spend.
  6. N4CKC

    N4CKC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I would like to see the finished product once you get the install completed. I just picked up a crew cab 2021 Colorado. I have an Icom IC-7100 and a Little Tarheel II at the ready, I pulled it off the old Cherokee when I sent it packing. Just been looking and pondering and wondering how it will play with all the electronic gadgets and gizmos in this truck. Worst case scenario I will throw it in my old 1988 F-150 toolbody and call it a day.
  7. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good radios and use a tarheel or screwdriver antenna/ but now the work begins grounding and eliminating issues.

    HF mobile is very rewarding.

    Do as much research as you can before you start the install.

    You must do your homework/ even to just hook the power cables up in a new vehicle.

    N4CKC likes this.
  8. KD5TXX

    KD5TXX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am in a 2020 Silverado. It is a company truck so I did a basic install. I'm running a 891 to a hamstick mounted on the tailgate and a yaesu FT400 . I have no problems with the electric system. I have done no additional grounding. Yes it could probably be better, but I have had over 1500 CW QSOs since Jan in it. So it works for what I need. Just make sure you turn off the stupid engine stop button when you start your truck. I learned that quick when i was sitting a a light in a QSO and it changed to green. Hit the accelerator and the radio would reset.

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